Ed Darling

The Duncan Banner Publisher

I had planned to share steps necessary to achieve world peace with you today, but before I could finish that paragraph, my thoughts shifted to solutions for balancing the budget and eliminating the spiraling national debt.

Then a couple of you asked that I address instead something more meaningful and certainly more timely, even though you admitted I likely wasn’t an authority on the subject. So, bowing to the old adage that the reader is always right, let me share my adjusted topic, touching on what little I may know.

“We graduates of The University of Alabama,” I enthusiastically told my Duncan Rotary friends – some I assume to be jubilant, happy Cowboys and others likely proud but concerned Sooners -  earlier in the week, “are proud of our football team for winning the school’s 14th national football championship.”

I tried to be humble as I spoke, remembering legendary Coach Paul Bryant always encouraged us to “act like you’ve been there before” in situations where we might find ourselves in the spotlight.

I didn’t even confront the man whose contorted face seemed to challenge the “14th” part of our school’s historic past. Though I have seen the champions of 1961, 1964, 1965, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009 and 2011 play, and while we still believe the undefeated team of 1966 should also have been crowned after a controversial 10-10 Notre Dame-Michigan State tie, I can’t personally account for the Rose Bowl victories and the national titles accorded us in the 1920s and 40s.

We simply, I would have explained, honored whatever system was or is in place.

Hence title No. 14.

In the BCS Championship Game, our team was better than an LSU team being praised as perhaps one of the best ever. Not only did we defeat them once, but maybe twice, though the scoreboard didn’t reflect that in the Tide’s first encounter with the Bayou Bengals earlier in the season.

Our quarterback played better in the rematch. Our runners ran better. Our blockers blocked better. Our specialty teams kicked and returned kicks better. Our coaches coached better. And our defense, well, it played a game so dominating it will be remembered for a long, long time.

We weren’t perfect. We scored a lot of field goals instead of touchdowns, but give LSU credit for a lot of that. And Nick Saban, our perfectionist leader, erupted in displeasure when a defensive lineman jumped offside with roughly two minutes remaining in the game for our only penalty of the entire 60 minutes.

Other than that, we were pretty good.

Could we have beaten Oklahoma State? That was never really an issue with us. Most had put LSU and the Cowboys in that “Dream Game of the Week,” not Alabama. Though I admire the work of Mike Gundy and enjoyed watching his excellent and exciting team play, I think we could have held our own against the Cowboys without being embarrassed. And while some have suggested players from the two schools meet one Saturday morning in a vacant cornfield or a pasture to settle the No. 1 issue once and for all, it’s a match-up unlikely to happen.

Besides, we’ve been busy.

After the celebrating ended, our first post-game challenge was to come to the aid of our SEC brethren in trouble.

When we heard the LSU team buses and fans were having difficulty getting back to Baton Rouge from New Orleans after the game, we understood completely, offering our condolences, sympathy and support. Seems someone had painted a 50-yard line across the interstate highway and the Tiger faithful, much like its players, couldn’t cross it.

Now, uh, our folks move to a more familiar task. Finding a spot for the new trophy will take a little time and prompt a little shuffling.

We’ll take a couple of days off after that, replace a coach or two, find a few new players and start all over again, this time in search for No. 15.

I imagine close to 100,000 supporters will fill Bryant-Denny Stadium for the spring game in April, gratefully applaud those who made the newest championship possible and watch as the 2011 title year is chiseled in stone beneath the bigger-than-life size statue that honors Saban.

Alabama opens the 2012 season in just 229 days with a game against Michigan in Cowboys Stadium at Arlington. It has road games at Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and LSU, and home games with Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Western Carolina and Auburn.

With a little success, we might even find ourselves playing opposite OU or OSU in another big, important bowl game. And wouldn’t that be fun?

Roll Tide!

edarling@duncanbanner.com

580-255-5354, Ext. 130

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